View Full Version : Cheapest archival flat white paint for basing canvas?

04-20-2018, 10:17 AM
I need an affordable paint to base my canvas' with. Rather than just go to Home Depot and buy a gallon of indoor flat white acrylic paint, I figure I should ask here if there is a better way to affordably base the canvas.

04-21-2018, 06:18 PM
I can't imagine a more economical alternative than house paint. However some indoor house paints aren't even 'washable.' (the paint rubs off with a damp sponge. ) I would think exterior house paint might adhere better, or maybe interior wall primer.

04-21-2018, 09:19 PM
By basing I am assuming you are talking about priming the canvas?

Good quality house paint is not cheap. It is also not a very good material to use to prime a canvas from what I have experienced, observed and read.

You can buy artists gesso in bulk by the gallon or in 5 gallon buckets, for about what you would pay, or even less than decent quality house paint. Take a look at the Certified Artist brand gesso for $19 / gallon from ASW. It is pretty good stuff for the money. You can also make your own gesso / primer using bulk acrylic binder (or oil binders for an oil ground), white pigment and calcium carbonate.

The paint store primers that I feel are good enough to use to prime panels and canvas such as Sherwin Williams DTM, Rustoleum UMA XIM, various wax free shellacs, etc. generally cost as much or more than many of the name brand art supply gessos and primers. UMA XIM for example, which is my favorite first coat for priming Dibond / ACM panels is $50 a gallon! More than two and a half times the cost of Certified Artist gesso.

04-22-2018, 01:27 AM
I was thinking of the white acrylic paint I'd paint over the gesso. Because it'd take like many layers of gesso to get rid of the brown tint of hardboard. Was thinking like two or 3 layers of gesso then a couple coats of white paint? Is that a bad idea?

04-23-2018, 03:16 PM
If you sealed the hardboard first and used a good gesso (artist or professional quality, not a cheap one) it shouldn't take any more than 2 coats to completely cover or really knock back that brown tint. And it will have that nice tooth, too.

04-23-2018, 04:57 PM
I haven't checked prices lately so I don't know the cost differential between artists' grade gesso, student grade gesso or a good primer like Kilz, but I've used all three at times.

04-23-2018, 10:07 PM
Based Goldenís recommendations, hereís how Iím preparing hardboard now. Start with hardboard thatís smooth on both sides. Get 4 old glasses or jars all the same height and place them so they will support your panel at its corners.

Coat the back of the panel first with Golden gloss medium. Set the panel on the glasses, wet side down. Allow to dry and then coat the edges. Repeat two more times, coating front and back to prevent warping.

Apply gesso as desired, sanding lightly between layers if you want a smooth surface. Gesso thinned 30% with water will go on more smoothly.

04-24-2018, 02:18 PM
I never had much luck with House paint either. There's a lot of ingredients that would affect the longevity of your art as well. Studio Grade Gesso is cheap, but I find the professional quality Gessos' while more expensive, has much more pigment and requires 1/2 the layers that studio grade gesso needs to reach the opaqueness I like. So in the long run it's just as cheap as studio grade. A Quart goes a long way. I apply it with a 3 inch foam roller and get a very consistent texture. 1 or 2 coats can accomplish the coverage I like as opposed to the 3-5 coats studio Grade Gesso provides.